The Rams’ offense has undergone a makeover, with a much more run-oriented approach. The offense has been called terrible by many and looked to be in decline. But, what has changed? Through two months of the season, the changes seem to be more cosmetic, as it was a common sense approach that was just not working. Since firing Jeff Fisher and promoting John Fassel, the offense has looked different and has gotten better.
The Rams are 4-1 heading into Sunday’s game vs. the Chargers. The offense is averaging 28 points per game, Robert Woods has been their most consistent receiver and Jared Goff is off to a great start. The defense has picked off the opposing quarterback 11 times, forcing 9 turnovers and only giving up 13 points per game. The Rams are no longer the worst offense in the league and can no longer be considered one of the best. The offense is behind the defense’s success, as this team was a complete mess last year and it is taking time for the offense to rebuild.
6:00 EASTERN TIME.
- For two years, he covered the Rams for the Los Angeles Times.
- Was previously covered by the Falcons.
- Beats the NBA, college football and basketball.
THOUSAND OAKS, California. — better, worse, or the same?
That’s the question facing the Los Angeles Rams team as they look to improve on a 10-6 season that ended with a divisional playoff loss against the Green Bay Packers.
Two weeks into the season, the Rams completed a trade that sent quarterback Jared Goff, two first-round picks and a third-round pick to the Detroit Lions in exchange for quarterback Matthew Stafford.
The Rams signed DeSean Jackson to a one-year, $4.5 million contract and then selected Louisville receiver Tutu Atwell with a second-round NFL draft pick. Both playmakers should be quick targets for Stafford.
Defensively, re-contracting Leonard Floyd was a top priority after the middle linebacker recorded a career-high 10.5 sacks. The Rams signed him to a four-year, $64 million contract.
Now that Free Agency is behind us, the NFL Draft is over and the offseason program is complete, it’s time to look at the Rams roster and determine if they have gotten better this offseason, judging by the personnel changes.
Let’s start with the attack.
Additions : Matthew Stafford (exchange), Devlin Hodges (one-year contract, $780,000).
Losing: Jared Goff (Detroit Lions), Blake Bortles (Green Bay Packers).
The boys are back: John Wolford, Bryce Perkins.
Better, worse or the same: Best
What you need to know about the Los Angeles Rams team:
– Rams free agents
– Free agents report | More NFL
– Analysis of each Rams draft pick
– Guard scores for each team
– McShay’s favorite pick for all 32 teams
– Rams 2021 schedule | All games
When Stafford asked to transfer from Detroit after 12 seasons, Rams coach Sean McVay and general manager Les Sneyd decided it was too good an opportunity to pass up.
In four seasons under McVay, Goff helped the Rams win two division championships, an NFC championship and Super Bowl LIII. There is hope that Stafford can lead the Rams to a Super Bowl victory.
I want to play in big games like this and in big moments like this, Stafford said when asked about Super Bowl expectations and pressure. It’s more of an opportunity than anything else.
Stafford, 33, has the most assists in Detroit history, but hasn’t won in three playoff games.
He’s a special kid, McVay said of his new QB. I think one of the best ways to describe him is to hear from people who have been around him, he’s a known confidence, when he walks into a room, you feel his presence, but he’s very humble, everyone likes to be around him, and he’s one of those guys who really shines. He makes everyone around him better.
Stafford is backed by Wolford, who proved to be a good NFL backup in last season’s Week 17 victory over the Arizona Cardinals, clinching a playoff spot.
Cam Akers is poised to become the Rams’ No. 1 receiver after assuming that role late last season. Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY Sports
Additions : Jake Funk (seventh round pick).
Losing: Malcolm Brown (Miami Dolphins)
The boys are back: Cam Akers, Darrell Henderson Jr, Xavier Jones, Raymond Kahle.
Better, worse or the same: Even
The loss of Brown could be felt early, as the six-year veteran is always ready to protect passes and make plays on the goal line, but expect the runner’s growing pains to be short-lived.
Akers is the premier defender of the future. In the final two months of his rookie season, he broke through from the running backs and amassed 625 yards and two touchdowns on 145 passes. He has proven to run well and is a talented receiver.
The bigger question is whether Akers has improved his understanding of the playbook and pass protection. Things are getting a lot easier for me, Akers said during the offseason program. I understand the game plan much better, I understand the blocking patterns.
McVay also expressed confidence in Henderson, who was held back in the offseason by an unspecified injury. He’s feeling better and better, McVay said. We expect him to be fully fit for the start of training camp.
Rams coach Sean McVay hopes 34-year-old DeSean Jackson can stay healthy and provide the deep threat Los Angeles lacks in 2020. Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP
Additions : DeSean Jackson (one-year contract, $4.5), Tutu Atwell (second-round pick), Ben Skowronek (seventh-round pick).
Losing: Josh Reynolds (Tennessee Titans)
The boys are back: Robert Woods, Cooper Kapp, Van Jefferson, Nsimba Webster, Trishton Jackson
Better, worse or the same: Best
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In 2020, the Rams came into the game without a true receiver, with great tackle depth, and were ultimately unable to stretch the defense. They won’t make that mistake in 2021 after gaining momentum this season with the acquisitions of Jackson and Atwell.
Jackson is the leading candidate for the No. 3 receiver job, along with Woods and Kapp. The 34-year-old is entering his 14th season and is concerned about his ability to stay healthy after being inactive and out of action for the last two seasons due to injuries. But there’s no doubt he can still play deep.
He can still run, Stafford said of Jackson. I know you do. He can always leave.
The Rams also have high hopes for sophomore Jefferson, who caught 19 passes for 220 yards and a touchdown last season. You can tell he’s working very hard, McVey said. He’s back, he’s pitching as a legitimate guy, a guy we count on for great things, and I think this guy has a bright future.
Jacob Harris, selected in the fourth round of this year’s draft, has already impressed and could become a second tight end for the Rams. Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY Sports
Additions : Jacob Harris (fourth round)
Losing: Gerald Everett (Seattle Seahawks)
The boys are back: Tyler Higbee, Brysen Hopkins, Johnny Mundt, Kendall Blanton.
Better, worse or the same: Worst
Everett didn’t contribute consistently every week, but he was able to get big wins when he needed to. His absence will be felt at least temporarily, as it is not known who will play in Higby’s place.
Last year, the Rams selected Hopkins in the fourth round to replace Everett, but Hopkins had a quiet offseason while Harris competed with the starters during minicamp (Higbee was there, but did not participate).
His natural range, tackling radius and body control are pretty rare for a player his size, McVay said. When an NFL guy stands out like that in such limited circumstances, in shorts and helmet, he certainly makes a positive impression.
However, it remains to be seen how Harris and Hopkins will do live.
Austin Corbett, who played guard the past two seasons, is the favorite to become the Rams’ next starting center. Bob Coopbens/Icon Sportswire
Additions : No
Losing: Austin Blythe (Kansas City Chief)
The boys are back: Andrew Whitworth, David Edwards, Austin Corbett, Bobby Evans, Rob Havenstein, Joe Noteboom, Brian Allen, Jamil Demby, Coleman Shelton, Chandler Brewer, Tremaine Ancram Jr.
Better, worse or the same: Worst
The Rams haven’t added a single lineman in free agency or the draft (other than contracting a couple of free agents without a contract), which is pretty surprising considering Blythe’s departure in free agency.
Throughout the offseason, McVay maintained that a replacement for the center had already been found. Corbett, Allen and Shelton will compete for the spot Blythe held the past two seasons.
Corbett, who has played left guard and right guard since the Rams sent a fifth-round pick to the Cleveland Browns to acquire him in 2019, appears to be a leader. He’s a very smart player, McVay said of Corbett, a second-round pick in 2018. He has a good sense of play.
If Corbett wins the job, Evans should replace him as right back.
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